On Thursday night activists from Jewish Voice for Peace–Chicago (JVP-Chicago) disrupted the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago “Israel Emergency Campaign” fundraiser at the Chicago Hilton, which was addressed by prominent officials and an Israeli soldier.
The disruptions took place as dozens of Chicagoans rallied outside calling for an end to the attack on Gaza and for Israeli war criminals to be brought to justice.
The video above shows two activists, Lynn Pollack and K. Émilie, standing up during a speech by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and shouting “We are Jews, Shame on You! Stop killing children now!”
Emanuel stands silently while a man grabs a sign out of the activists’ hands. As the two are led out by security personnel they continue to shout their message to jeers from the audience.
Émilie later tweeted that she was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse as she was led out:
The video then shows a similar disruption to a speech by an Israeli soldier. During that disruption an Israeli citizen called Omer, who was sitting in the audience, stood up and disrupted, shouting in Hebrew his message against Israeli war crimes and the murder of children in Gaza.
Yet more activists wave a banner and disrupt as Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, addresses the audience. Oren was disrupted more than once, as the video shows.
Some of the angered Israel supporters shouted “Shame on you back” at the anti-Gaza-massacre protestors.
The fundraiser received high-level political support, including a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Dozens of members of the Chicago Palestinian community and solidarity activists rallied outside the Chicago Hilton with banners and called out slogans against Israel’s massacre in Gaza. Here’s a brief video of the scene:
Protestors also held a “die-in” to call attention to Israel’s killing of 494 children in Gaza since 7 July.
Bill Chambers reported on some of the rally speeches in The Chicago Monitor:
Outside multiple speakers emphasized the injustice of the continued assault on Gaza. Nashisha Alam from SJP-Chicago said “While they sip cocktails and raise funds for war criminals, we are here supporting the people of Palestine…They are inside listening to Michael Oren trying to justify the killing of civilians.” Kait McIntyre from the Chicago Anti-War Committee and one of the activists arrested during a recent sit-in at Boeing headquarters described the outrage that “in Chicago with the largest Palestinian community in the country, Boeing is providing weapons to Israel to kill Palestinians in Gaza.”
Hatem Abudayyeh from the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) – Chicago reminded the crowd of major victories when all activists in the community stand together. He described activists in Oakland who prevented an Israeli ship from unloading its cargo. “The majority black dockworkers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to cross the community picket line.” The fact that the mayor of Chicago made a prominent appearence at the event didn’t go without comment. “How is it that Rahm Emmanuel as our mayor is taking sides in this political conflict?” Abudayyeh continued to emphasize one of the main messages of the protesters – “We are here to continue to tell the truth to the American people, this is the truth about Israel – they want to continue the siege of Gaza and continue the occupation.”
“Bursting their bubble”
I spoke briefly with Lynn Pollack, K. Emilie and Omer, three of those who took part in the disruption, and in these brief videos they explain why they acted and what happened.
The interviews took place outside the Hilton and the vigorous solidarity protest can be heard in the background.
“We wanted to burst their bubble,” Pollack says, “And we got up and said ‘Shame on you.’”